Pitt Magazine

Pitt alumnus Sam Rosenzweig spent his career fighting injustice

Rosenzweig pets a black dog's chin


Injustice didn’t sit right with Martin “Sam” Rosenzweig — something that made him not only an impressive lawyer, but also a trustworthy and generous friend. He died at the age of 71 on July 19, 2023, in Henderson, Nevada.

Rosenzweig (A&S ’74, LAW ’77) was born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. At Pitt, he earned an undergraduate degree in political science and speech in 1974 before graduating from the School of Law in 1977.

He was involved in local politics while at the University and served with the Young Democrats, a role that had him once pick up then-Senator Joe Biden from the airport. Pitt was also the place where he found the woman who would become his wife, Karen Baseman (A&S ’75). They met through Students for Israel when Rosenzweig was in his first year at Pitt, dating and breaking up before reconnecting in Professor Bernard Goldstein’s medieval Judaism class. They married in 1975.

Even as a young attorney, Rosenzweig put his values first. While working for a Philadelphia insurance provider, he disagreed with the settlement offered to a family whose child died in an accident. When he was encouraged to advocate for the family to take less money than he felt they deserved, he resigned from the position.

Rosenzweig then returned to the Pittsburgh area, landing a position as an attorney for Laurel Legal Services, a nonprofit that offered free legal representation in civil matters to local low-income individuals.

He spent decades there, first as a staff attorney and then as managing attorney of its office in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. He served as a mentor to interns and early-career attorneys and often traded case strategy ideas with colleagues during carpools into the office.

Guided by the motto, “justice, justice, shalt you pursue,” Rosenzweig believed everyone deserves access to quality legal representation. He had a special affinity for working with the elderly and developed expertise in elder law, working closely with the Area Agency on Aging to provide free legal services to the elderly. He served on the Elder Law Committee of the Westmoreland Bar Association and had a central role in establishing its pro bono program. Among his other professional achievements was helping to write the first draft of the Pennsylvania Automobile Lemon Law. 

Upon retiring, he and Karen moved to Henderson, Nevada, where he could frequently be seen sporting Pitt gear to show his pride. His dog, Ziva, a black Labrador mix, was often by his side.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, a brother, two nieces and a nephew.